New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) that is lauded the world over for its commendable space program experienced a minor setback during its latest satellite launch on August 31.
About three minutes into the launch – which was being aired live – something seemed amiss as the coverage was cut short.
Moments later, ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar confirmed that the PSLV-C39 rocket's heat shield which was supposed to separate in order to release the satellite failed to do so, resulting in the failure of the Rs 250-crore mission.
However, the agency remains unfazed after the failed mission as ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar has confirmed that the space agency will resume launching satellites in November or December.
"We will resume the launches by November or December, with one of the remote sensing satellites though we are yet to finalise with which," said Kumar.
The state-run space agency will schedule its next launch mission after a committee studying the cause of the failure submits its report soon.
"We have identified what the problem is and are going through the simulations to make sure what we are concluding is what has exactly happened (heat shield not separating and deploying the satellite in the orbit)," Kumar told reporters on the margins of a space event here.
"The committee has been set up to go through the report, which will come out soon. Launches will resume after the committee gives its final report," reiterated Kumar.
The rocket's heat shield should have separated three minutes after the lift-off, but it failed. Space scientists at the mission control centre waited for 19 minutes to see if it would separate, and only then declared the mission unsuccessful on August 31 night.
The IRNSS-1H, which was part of the Navigation Indian Constellation (NavIC) as a substitute for IRNSS-1A was to have been deployed 507km above the earth.
The Rs 1,420-crore NavIC consists of nine satellites – seven in orbit and two as substitutes (IRNSS-1H and IRNSS-1I).
The Chairman, however, admitted that the failed mission was not insured.
"We don't insure our own launches. Whatever launches we do are from the government's money," Kumar told IANS at the silver jubilee celebrations of the space agency's commercial arm Antrix Corporation Ltd, set up 25 years ago for space business.
Antrix Managing Director S. Rakesh said that as a setback the mission failure was a part and parcel of any space business.
"If I see the nature of its setback, it is not a serious one, it is a small hitch as I see it," asserted Rakesh.
Ruling out even short-term impact on Antrix, Rakesh said there was demand for its services.
"The testings are going on and it should not have any short-term impact on Antrix. Our demands keep coming," added Rakesh.
Inaugurating the event earlier, Kumar told the gathering that the space agency was looking at joint ventures with the space industry for its rocket launches by 2020-21.
"One of the key things we are planning to do is joint ventures with the industry for PSLV launches by 2020-21. We are working on a consortium of state-run and private firms to build its (rocket's) nitty gritty," noted Kumar.
"Antrix should leverage ISRO's capabilities to boost export of our space products and services and compete with overseas players, which are offering space tourism," added Kumar.
Former ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said as a $311-million commercial arm of the Department of Space, Antrix accounted for only 0.123 percent of the $260-billion global space industry.
"We hope that Antrix can become 1 percent of the global space sector by 2030," said Radhakrishan at the event.
With Rs 1,991-crore ($311 million) revenue in the last fiscal (2016-17), Antrix has orders valued at Rs 8,000 crore ($1,250 million) for the next three-five years.
"With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council treating global orders as exports, we see greater opportunity in some of the newer vehicles like the Geosynchronous Satellite Launching Vehicles (GSLV)," pointed out Rakesh.
With a consortium in place, Antrix hopes to grow its space business by marketing its offerings to the global space community.
(With IANS inputs)